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What is pop music? (a broad look)

Onwards to our next genre, this time, pop music. Most of us will be familiar with pop but it can still feel overwhelming with all of its subgenres and the drastic change in style each decade.

In this week’s look at pop music, we’ll listen to mainstream pop from each decade before looking at its many subgenres in later weeks.

In the 1950s, the term ‘pop music’ was first used to describe rock n roll music, with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. This music had a new groove to it and appealed greatly to the teenagers of the time.

You can hear how this style continued to spark creativity with The Beatles in the 1960s. This decade had a very chilled aspect to it too The Kinks and The Beach Boys. However, it wasn’t all about the men. Aretha Franklin brought out her much loved song, “RESPECT”, Nancy Sinatra sang ‘These Boots are Made for Walking” and The Ronettes and The Supremes also gave us some music still loved today.

On to the 1970s and ABBA came on to the scene after winning Eurovision with “Waterloo”. The 70s was all over the flares, platforms and bright outfits. This was also the time of a young Micheal Jackson singing ‘ABC’, The BeeGees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive’ and Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘A Bridge Over Troubled Water’. It wasn’t all light though, as Pink Floyd released “Another Brick in the Wall” in 1979.

As the Jackson’s continued in the 1980s, The Human League brought out “Don’t You Want Me” in 1981. The 80s saw a surge of Dance music and so club anthems such as “You Spin Me Round (Like a record)” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” rose to popularity, along with A-Ha’s “Take on Me”. The last year of the 80s also saw the likes of Billy Joel and Bon Jovi dropping their rock songs “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “Born to Be My Baby”.

In the 1990s, more child-friendly music came on the scene with Steps, Spice Girls and S Club 7 marketing towards younger people. However, it wasn’t all for the kids, with “No Diggity” making an appearance, ‘Macarena’ showing us some new dance moves and Nivana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” reminding us of our heavier side.

Looking at the 2000s and 2010s, we can see how much music has changed with Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Adele, Green Day, Halestorm, Stormzy and Panic! at the Disco bringing out new music and pushing the boundaries. Long may it last.

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